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Daily Devotional 4-24-19

3D Forgiveness

In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.  Ephesians 1:7-8.
 
We just witnessed the joy of family and friends during Easter celebrations. Many churches had wonderful services to usher us into the new life God offers us through the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! For lots of people, the meaning of Easter ends with the celebrations and company of friends and family during that time. This morning I would want to draw your attention to one of the many riches and blessings associated with the resurrection of Jesus.
 
The whole narrative of the Christian journey is that God is reclaiming his people. The account from Genesis to the book of Revelation is a narrative of how God reclaimed, is reclaiming, and will reclaim his people. This takes us back to when humanity fell from the presence of God. Through Adam, we sinned against God. And sin brought death—spiritual separation from God.  Sin is that powerful, but it does not have the final say. It has a remedy!
 
Our text today tells us of the forgiveness we have received from God according to the riches of God’s grace made available through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  …by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them be a kingdom and priests serving our God. Revelation 5:9-10.
 
Through the blood of Jesus, God has forgiven and washed us of our sins. We are longer debtors to sin. Now, this is the good part: God’s forgiveness is three-dimensional. He has forgiven us of our past, present, and future sins. That sounds too good to be true, right? Jesus’ sacrifice was a one-time provision. If your future sins are not taken care, then Christ will have to come back and die again for those future sins.
 
Therefore, do not impede your progress by the sins of your past. Free your soul from any form of imprisonment you have endured and enjoy the blessing of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. The reality is that many people are walking around with guilt while a provision for their freedom has been made. People are carrying needless burdens. I want to invite you to drop your burdens of the past and present sins and embrace the gift of God in Christ Jesus.
 
Receive Christ’s forgiveness so that you can extend forgiveness to others.
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, free me from self-inflicted guilt and shame, that I may receive the gift of forgiveness in Christ Jesus.


Daily Devotional 4-23-19

Minds Above  
 
…seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
 
Today’s devotion is a sequel to what I shared yesterday.  We looked at the truth that we are no longer slaves to fear and sin.  Our text today opens for us a new reality and a new way of thinking and living.  Our new life in Christ Jesus means the old life, the old patterns of thinking and living that were contrary to God’s love, have been buried.  They do not exist anymore.  Therefore, set your minds on things above—on heavenly things.  This encouragement brings the question, “What are the heavenly and earthly things?” How do we identify earthly and heavenly things?  What do the words earthly and heavenly mean in this context?
 
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry)… But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth, Col. 3:5 Paul, the apostle, outlines for us the things he considered earthly.  The above list belongs to the earth and darkness.  We are to rid ourselves of these things.
 
You do not belong to the earth anymore! Paul then goes on to tell us of the heavenly things: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Col. 3:12
 
You belong to heaven—a new way of thinking and living!
 
Imagine our world if a fraction of Christians began to live with this mentality. Imagine how our families, friendships, churches, schools, government, etc., would be if we live with minds set on heaven.  No one buries a loved one and goes back to dig them out again because they love them so much.  When Jesus died, we died with him.  And we cannot go back to dig up our old nature that was buried with him.  Instead, we have resurrected into new persons who have the capacity to set their minds on heaven to make the earth worth living. Are you living with a heavenly mentality or earthly one? What attitudes in your life could classify as heavenly or earthly?
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, fill me with your power to live with a heavenly mentality.


Daily Devotional 4-22-19

Easter People

“…you have been raised with Christ…”  Colossians 3:1
 
Our Christians faith has a very strong and unshakeable foundation. Our faith is not just about the death of Jesus, but also about the resurrection of the same.  We do not just die to the world, sin, and self.  We die in order to live.  This is because our savior did not remain in the grave. Death could not hold him captive as it had done many people.  The grave had swallowed up people and held them down.  But, not in the case of our savior. Death had a different experience.  For the first time, death was defeated and destroyed.  I believe that death was surprised that its sting was broken and its hold on humanity was shattered.  The apostle Paul tells us that not only could death not stand against Jesus, but we have been delivered from the power of death.  Jesus did not resurrect alone, but he raised us up with him.  We have another opportunity to live in union with God, each other. and ourselves.
 
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 1 Cor. 15:17
 
My passion and confidence in the Gospel is not in my own abilities.  For the Christian, the resurrection of Jesus has become the ever-living foundation.  The fact of the resurrection is proof that Jesus is the sure way to God, and you can trust and rely on him.  Therefore, I am confident in proclaiming His Gospel.  I want to encourage you not to walk in fear or intimidation.  Do not live your life as someone without hope, or as a person whose life is susceptible to the hazards of life.  Your faith in Christ has a sure foundation, and if you have faith, you can face life and be victorious.
 
We have been raised with Christ, and that means, we are no more separated from God.  There has been a restoration of the broken relationship and fellowship.  No more are we aliens to God.  No more is our God distant from us! The chasm has been closed because Jesus was resurrected from death.  While the resurrection may have a general blessing for all Christians, it also may bring specific healing to all of our varying situations.  Whatever your challenge is, there is enough hope in Christ for you to be confident about your future.
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see the blessings of the resurrection of Christ, that I may live and walk as an Easter person.


Daily Devotional 4-19-19

The Cosmic Scapegoat  

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46
 
In the old covenant, two goats were required on the Day of Atonement. One was sacrificed and the high priest lays his hands on the head of the other goat and mentions all the sins of the Israel. The implication is that the goat carries all the sins of Israel. This live goat is left to wander off from the camp of Israel into the wilderness. This is the scapegoat. This has a strong connection to what happened to Jesus on the cross.
 
The only begotten Son of God hung on the cross and felt forsaken by a loving father. It felt like the father had deserted him. This was the first time in his earthly life where the Father had been distant. There were no angels ministering to him. His cry revealed the depth of rejection and isolation he experienced from the communion of the Godhead. Why did this happen? Why was the Father not close to him? The answer is simple: sin. At this time, Jesus was carrying all the sins of humanity. In fact, Paul explains in a higher and deeper dimension, “For our sake he made him be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” 1 Corinthians 5:21. This even reveals that Jesus did not just carry our sins; instead, he became sin. The holy Son of the Father had become sinful in the eyes of his Father, as such just as God separated himself from Adam; God had separated himself from Jesus because he had become sin.
 
On the cross, Jesus became sin, not a sinner. He became a lie, not a liar. He became immorality, not an immoral person. He became hatred, not a hater. He became wickedness, not a wicked person. Do you see the depth of what happened on the cross? Jesus has shifted from being holy to sin for your sake. When he became sin, we became the righteousness of God.
 
As I type these words, I am seeing what happened on the cross in a different light. I am asking myself the question, “If he went through all these for me, what can I do to appreciate his act of love?” Is it not to offer my life wholly and live out God’s righteousness?
 
PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, that you became sin that I may become God’s righteousness. Help me to live out your righteousness in this world.


Daily Devotional 4-18-19

The Freeway is Open
 
“Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” Matthew 27:50-51
 
The temple in Jerusalem was designed with many symbols. All their symbols had great significance in worship. Some of them related specifically to humanity’s relationship with God.  In particular, there were two curtains in the temple: one which separated the Jews from the Gentiles, and the other which separated the holy of holies from the holy place. The high priest entered the holy of holies once a year on the Day of Atonement.
 
The significance of the curtains in the temple is separation. It speaks of how sin estranged God’s people. Humanity did not have free access to the God who created them. Contrary to the pre-fall experience of Adam and Eve with God, we were banned from God’s daily presence. People could not go to God, and God would not come to his people except through a mediator. Sin had separated people from God, and vice versa (Isaiah 59:1-2). One of the blessings of Jesus’ sacrificial death is the restoration of the broken relationship between God and his people.
 
From our text today, Jesus had given up the ghost and immediately, the blessings of his death went into effect. The veil of separation in the temple was torn into two! Hallelujah! No more separation between God and his people. No more will people be separated from themselves and from one another. There is now open access. God can move to his people and vice versa. There is two-way traffic. You do not need a high priest to speak to God on your behalf. This is unlimited access to God for all people, at all places, at all times. That means you can pray to God in your vehicle, at the office, bedroom, in your kitchen, etc. In addition, you do not need a human mediator—a pastor, bishop, priest, etc., to pray on your behalf. Did I just say that? Yes! Of course, these leaders can help pray for you, but you can talk with God yourself. I want you to have that confidence. You do not need a seminary degree to speak with God. In the new covenant, you can enter into the presence of God in a new and living way.
 
The freeway is open, my friend. Cruise into the presence of God and you will find rest for your soul.
 
PRAYER: Lord, grant me the desire and boldness to come into your presence consistently.


Daily Devotional 4-17-19

It is Finished!

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  John 19:30
 
Every assignment has a conclusion. Every journey comes to an end. In life, there is always a beginning and an ending. The wise teacher Solomon said, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning,” Ecclesiastes 7:8. Many people begin projects, visions, dreams, etc., but are not able to finish them. Others are able to see the accomplishments of their set goals. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus. These two significant figures in the Old Testament did not actually finish their call. Moses was instructed to take the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, but God did not permit him to enter the land because of his anger issues.  Joshua had to complete the assignment. Elijah, on the other hand, complained to God that he was the only prophet of God left, and cried to God to take his life. Elisha took over the prophetic ministry from him.
 
Jesus, our Redeemer, paints a different picture! He embarked on the painful and dreadful journey to redeem God’s people and he boldly exclaimed on the cross, “It is finished.” So what did Jesus finished? To answer this, we need to know why Jesus died on the cross. Firstly, he died to shed his blood to redeem us from sin and death. He died to restore the broken relationship that existed between God and his people.  He died to free us so that we could love God, ourselves, and our neighbors. Finally, Jesus died to destroy the powers of darkness that held God’s people captive.
 
Therefore, we can conclude that our redemption is finished; our salvation has been secured; we are free to receive God’s love, and share it; we are no more under the domain of Satan. The hold of the grave and the sting of death has been broken (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Christ Jesus, our Savior has finished his work! It is up to us to walk in this confidence, laying hold of all the benefits that come with his death and resurrection. Why do I have such confidence? Because Jesus said, He has finished providing the solution to our greatest need on this earth. And when said Jesus, “it is finished,” he meant “it is finished.” We don’t have to add to what he had already done on the cross. Alas, we can find a resting place in Jesus!
 
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to walk in the freedom of your finished work on Calvary!


Daily Devotional 4-16-19

In Remembrance of Me  

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:14-20
 
Jesus had had several fellowships around meals with his disciples. Sometimes he ate with sinners to the displeasure of the self-righteous religious leaders. While I believe Jesus’ fellowship with sinners around meals were purposeful, I strongly believe the meal in our text today had a higher purpose—for it was the last meal Jesus had with the disciples before his suffering and crucifixion. The first holiday I experienced in the U.S. was Thanksgiving in 2012. I asked my host family about the history behind the turkey. Simply put, the Thanksgiving meal has history attached to it. It reminds us of the beginnings of American life. Therefore, the Thanksgiving meal is special because of its national and historical significance.
 
Jesus was going to have a purposeful feast with the disciples––the Passover meal. This meal dates back to the night before the Israelites set off from Egypt. God instructed them to kill a lamb and mark their door post with the blood of the lamb and eat the meat with unleavened bread.  The blood at the door post would save the Israelites from the judgment of death that was to occur that very night. Thus, the Israelites were spared because of the blood of the lamb on their door post. Thus, through the blood of Jesus, a new covenant is ratified, and we are spared from death—separation from God. Through the shedding of the blood of Jesus, our sins are forgiven and the power of death is broken from us. No more are we slaves to sin and fear!
 
So, what do we remember as we partake of the Lord’s Supper? We remember the uniting grace of the Holy Communion. Though we are many, in Christ Jesus we are one; for there is one body with many parts. We are united into God’s family. We also remember God’s mighty acts of redemption of the Israelites from bondage, and we are assured of our own redemption from the sin and death. Finally, we celebrate and remember the love God had for us.
 
PRAYER: Lord, help us celebrate your table with a sense of purpose, so that we may be the family of God.


Daily Devotional 4-15-19

Mission Possible And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem… Luke 19:28-40

In the event of a disaster we have people who have been trained as first responders to bring relief to those affected. For some workers, like firefighters, it is their job to run into the very scene other people are fleeing. They have been trained to handle daring situations that the average person cannot handle. They go on a rescue mission. In the event of 9/11, while others were fleeing from the wreckage, firefighters were entering into the wreckage to rescue those who were trapped in the collapsed twin towers.
 
Jesus knew exactly how the religious leaders, the Roman governor, and the masses would handle him. He also knew he would ultimately end up on the cross, dying among thieves. Yet, he marched triumphantly into suffering and death. He was going to face the arch-enemy of humanity––Satan—in a final battle. Death had separated people from God, from themselves, and from one another. Sin had dominated God’s heritage, and Jesus was on the move to redeem God’s estranged people. John 10:18 paints Jesus’ authoritative words, “For this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. Sure, Jesus was entering into Jerusalem to lay down his life and pick it up again, for our redemption.
 
The text also reveals the humble attitude with which Jesus approached his assignment. Yes, he was confident and not a coward, but he was humble. Worldly kings would parade themselves on horses—a symbol of strength and power. But Jesus chose a colt—a symbol of humility. Jesus’ entire earthly life was wrapped in the garment of humility (Philippians 2:3-11). Due to his humility, even to the point of death, God exalted and gave him a name that is above all names. This is because humility exalts and pride destroys (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).
 
Today, God is reminding us to approach life with an attitude of humility. A humble person does not think highly of himself. He is not self-important. Kill your pride, before it destroys you.
 
Humility was the attitude with which God’s Kingdom broke into the world.
 
PRAYER: Lord, grant me a humble heart so that I may truly reflect your kingdom.


Daily Devotional 4-12-19

Repentance

“Even now,” says the Lord, “Turn and come to Me with all your heart [in genuine repentance], With fasting and weeping and mourning [until every barrier is removed, and the broken fellowship is restored]; Rip your heart to pieces [in sorrow and contrition] and not your garments. “Now return [in repentance] to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate. Joel 2:12-13 (AMP)
 
For those who like road trips, you probably have missed an exit once or twice and the GPS had to redirect you to the correct path. Life with God is a journey, and at times we are tempted to take wrong turns, but through repentance God redirects us back to the right path.
 
The book of Joel explores the fact that human sin and failure lead to destruction and that God longs to show mercy to those who will confess. In chapter one, the prophet prophesies God’s judgement and calls the nation to repentance, which they did. In our text today, he is calling the people a second time to repentance, because God is compassionate. The prophet reminds them that true repentance comes from the heart and not simply lip service.
 
As we journey with God, it might happen that we take a wrong turn and allow sin (pride, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc.) to creep in. Repentance is our only way back. God is compassionate and merciful and there is no sin He will not forgive. True repentance leads to a restored relationship with God.
 
PRAYERS: Lord, I recognize I have made a wrong turn; I have not pleased you in all my ways. I come with a humble heart and ask for your forgiveness. Cleanse me and lead me back to you.
 
REFLECTION: Where in your life have you strayed from the path? What steps do you need to take towards repentance and a renewed relationship with God?